ABOUT ARTS PRACTICA
Arts Practica is a medical education consultancy committed to improving healthcare quality, reducing misdiagnosis, and increasing arts engagement. Arts Practica takes an education approach, focusing on creative skill development for better doctoring and better teaching.
Arts Practica provides workshops:
- For care providers and clinical teachers: in creativity, reflective practice, and pedagogical tools.
- For arts leaders and educators: to extend arts strategy to specific needs in medical practice.
Arts Practica also provides consulting on program development and collaborations between medical schools and art museums.
This work arises from the following questions: How and where do care providers learn the skills of excellent clinical engagement? What are the aesthetic components of attention? What is the role of art in the development of creative skills? What are components of beneficial collaborations across arts and science domains? How can art museums make a difference in the health of the communities they serve?
Quality, creative attention is the difference between good and great in medicine. Arts Practica is committed to making this mysterious difference a practical reality.
Educator, consultant, and curriculum-designer Alexa Miller is a recognized expert in aligning medical training with visual art. Over the past decade, she has worked with hospitals, medical schools and other health care organizations to create and facilitate museum-based workshops and programs. Alexa specializes in connecting clinical learning with arts learning methodologies, including Visual Thinking Strategies, shown to improve critical thinking, language, and aesthetic skills through art.
Alexa got her start as co-creator of the Training the Eye Program, an arts-based preclinical course focused on the physical exam and the process of diagnosis, offered at Harvard Medical School since 2003. TTE produced published outcomes on the impact of arts training on medical students, and has become a model for programs at other medical schools and art museums internationally. In addition to teaching in Training the Eye, Alexa now offers training to others in integrating arts and clinical training. Alexa serves as adjunct faculty in Brandeis University’s Education Department, where she works closely with the Rose Art Museum. Formerly curator of education at the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Alexa created professional development workshops, taught courses in arts learning, and conducted research on undergraduates’ museum experiences.
A frequent presenter to medical and general audiences, Alexa has written and contributed to research in peer-reviewed publications, including General Journal of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Museum Education. Alexa’s curiosity about ambiguity and clinical cognition stems from her experience growing up in a family touched by longtime misdiagnosis.
Alexa received her BA in art history from Swarthmore College and her MA in studio painting from the Wimbledon School of Art. She has received awards from Creative Center for People with Cancer and New England Museum Association. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband, a biologist, and the four-year-old who schools them on a regular basis.
“Alexa Miller’s contributions are without doubt the key determinant of our success in Harvard’s “Training the Eye” course. She is certainly among the most insightful, thoughtful, creative, articulate and effective teachers I have ever interacted with! She is, what I would call, a “franchise player” — one so blessed with teaching and effective communication skills that she brings credit to each institution lucky enough to attract her.”
— Joel T. Katz, MD, Director Internal Medicine Residency, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
“Awesome workshop. I was very skeptical at first.”
— Medical College Dean
“This was one of the most innovative and compelling workshops I have ever attended at this annual conference. To me it was the highpoint of the entire meeting.”
— Residency Director
“Alexa Miller is a gifted teacher who is able to blend her extensive knowledge of the visual arts with an uncanny ability to enable students to observe in a truly open and unbiased way. I contacted Alexa initially because I wanted to find a way to expand the observational skills of the students (graduate and undergraduate-levels) in my child development courses. I noticed that their previous experiences and assumptions about children tainted their observations and thus limited their understanding of young children. Alexa’s response was to design a series of sessions, led at the Museum of Fine Arts, which she linked closely to my curriculum. Her initial interactions were sensitive and thoughtful, and resulted in a strong sense of trust among the students. Once this was established, she challenged the students to engage more deeply with works of art, and to reflect upon the implications for their professional practice.
“Alexa’s timely prompts, questions, and drawing instruction all contributed to a gradual change in the students’ interactions. The group began to look more closely and precisely, to listen more attentively to their peers and to share more freely. This carried over into a subsequent case study assignment that reflected a more robust style of observation connected to analysis. What a success! Alexa gave us all the inspiration to take the time to look more closely, to be thoughtful and open-minded when considering the people and things in our world.”
— Marcia Edson, MEd, Clinical Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Boston University
“Excellent. At first I thought it would be too touchy-feely and not applicable, but I was quickly sold on its value.”
— Clerkship Director
“Alexa worked with our teaching teams to develop and refine our observation skills. She is a very talented facilitator who managed to connect with every single teacher who attended the training. All who participated learned a lot about themselves and how they approach the process of observation. Team members also had the opportunity to reflect on each other’s strengths as observers and to appreciate the different perspectives we all bring to the team. We have been working on taking what we learned at the museum and applying it to our real-time observations of children. It has been tremendously beneficial to our work.”
— Ann Haber, Owner, Sunshine Academy, www.sunshineacademy.com
“Wow! This was the best, most inspiring and well organized workshop in many years, at many meetings.”
— Residency Director
“This course was a refreshing breather that freed my mind to think in new ways, while enhancing the way I look at my patients.”
— Student, Harvard Medical School, 2008.
“This course literally changed my life.”
— Student, Wellesley College, 2009.
SELECT CLIENT LIST
- Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
- The Bechtler Museum of Art
- Brandeis University - Education Department and The Rose Art Museum
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School
- Boston University – Education Department and School of Medicine
- Carolinas Healthcare Center
- Arts Education Partnership
- Wellesley College